What? Who moved all the furniture? Why is everything so dusty in here? And why is my voicemail light blinking so furiously at me?
The downside of going on vacation is that you tend to be disconnected from everything that's going on in the world. I recently returned from a family trip to California, and while it was a lot of fun, trying to catch up on life becomes difficult. While work and family obligations take first priority, I'm a hockey blogger, and so it is important for me to look back and figure out everything that happened in the hockey world while I was away.
While I knew that the Wings were successful in keeping their undefeated streak alive to start the season, many other things have gone on in the NHL that were complete surprises to me. Some of them were slightly amusing, while others are downright terrifying and making me think that the end of days is near.
One of the first things I did when I got home was open up NHL.com and take a quick gander at the standings. Oh look, there's the Wings on top of the Central at 4-0-0 despite playing in 34 less games than everyone else. Seriously, who came up with this schedule? We had months off, and now we get to see the Wings play 4 times in the first 2 weeks of the season? What gets me when I look at their record is not the wins, but the number 5, as in 5 GA in 4 games. Back-to-back shutouts of Colorado (more on them in a minute) and Vancouver really softened the blow from that third period against Ottawa, eh? While I still think the Wings have improving to do on defense, Jimmy Howard and Ty Conklin both stepped it up.
Speaking of Jimmy, that .930 SV% sure looks nice, even if it was dropped with his .857% performance against the Wild on Saturday. I smell an All-Star Game berth.
Now I just click on the Wings' stats and see that....wait a minute. Jiri Hudler is tied for the team lead in scoring? Like, actually scoring points during a hockey game? I know we all said that Happy was due for a bounce-back season, but did any of you actually believe he'd be leading the team in scoring at any point in the season? Pur your hand down, you liar. I would have predicted that Jonathan Ericsson would become the defenseman that he was supposed to be before thinking Hudler would be atop the Wings scoring leaders.
What's that you say? Ericsson has looked good? Surely you must be talking about his hair, because there's no way that Jonathan Ericsson would ever resemble an NHL defenseman. Yet, from the talk around the blogosphere, it sounds like Shitbox has started to live up ever so slightly to that contract. Can he maintain it? Who cares? He's already played better than anyone expected.
4 games into the season, and 10 different Red Wing players have scored goals. That's the kind of depth scoring that makes me warm in all of my happy parts. In fact, only Brad Stuart and Patrick Eaves have failed to register points in the first 4 games, and that's just fine because neither one is supposed to be carrying the load offensively. If the Wings are going to win #5 for #5, then they are going to need other players besides Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to step up and score goals.
Let's check back on the NHL standings. As it stands now, only 4 teams have yet to sustain a regulation loss, and one of them is the Maple Leafs. Seriously? I know I predicted them to finish 6th or higher in the East, but maybe I undersold them a little. Maybe I should wait to see what happens when they play a good team and not teams like the Jets and Senators.
Speaking of the Jets, can we finally get off this "they lost but we're so happy they're back" kick? Let's face facts: the Jets are terrible, because the Thrashers were terrible. I'm Canadian, so I'm very happy that Winnipeg has a team again. But let's stop with this fawning all over them simply because they are in a new city. You can put fancy clothes on a bum, but he still smells like that one uncle we all have.
Surprises abound in the NHL. Colorado, who should be giving up their lottery pick to the Capitals for Semyon Varlamov, are 5-1, their only loss coming to the Wings in their home opener on Peter Forsberg Night (which still tickles me). Dallas is also 5-1. So we've got the Wings, Avalanche and Stars all leading their divisions. Apparently I stepped off the plane and time warped back to 1998.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Sharks are 1-3 and the Canucks are 2-3-1. I realize it's early, but these records make me smile. All the talk entering the season was how good the Sharks and Canucks were going to be, and that may still be true, but slow starts like this make me realize there are flaws with those teams and can be exploited come playoff time.
We're only 2 weeks in, and everything that has happened might not mean anything once the season plays out. There's been some interesting , but what say you? Out of everything that has transpired so far, what has been the most surprising, and which of these developments do you see staying true until the end of the season?